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New Zealand's Fonterra fined over botulism food scare

Fonterra milk truck Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Testing later found there had been no problem with the firm's products

Dairy giant Fonterra has been fined $NZ300,000 ($256,675; £154,748) after it admitted four food-safety violations during a 2013 botulism scare.

The scare led to a worldwide milk product recall and to several countries blocking imports of New Zealand dairy products.

Testing later found there had been no problem with the firm's products.

Fonterra had faced a maximum fine of $NZ500,000 for the charges, relating to breaches of an animal products act.

It had admitted the four charges in March.

'Reputation shaken'

The company is the world's largest exporter of dairy products and had said it would not contest the charges.

The botulism scare related to a milk product used widely in infant formula.

The milk product, which is used by several multinational firms, was suspected of containing a bacteria that could cause botulism which is a severe form of food poisoning.

The dairy giant was sentenced by Judge Peter Hobbs in a district court in Wellington, New Zealand, on Friday.

"New Zealand's reputation for high-quality dairy products was shaken," Australia's Fairfax News reported Judge Peter Hobbs saying on Friday.

He said he accepted that the scare resulted from carelessness and failure to follow procedure, rather than any deliberate action, but said the company could and should have done better.

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